February Roundup: Top 5 Hybrid Working Stories

Posted by Karl O'Brien on

Throughout the month we’ve noticed many stories regarding Hybrid Working updates. In case you missed them, we’re here to give you a quick roundup of our top 5 stories!

Easing of Restrictions

After restrictions were lifted at the end of January. It was time for employees to begin a phased return to work in February. However, the government still urged employers to adopt a cautious approach to the return to workplaces. 

New rules were introduced in offices around the country. Employers were no longer obliged to retain contact details of all office visitors but employers may need to provide attendance information to health officials in the event of a Covid outbreak in the workplace. Although social distancing was no longer a legal requirement, it continues to be good practice in office settings. 

Although restrictions were eased at the start of the month this didn’t mean everyone rushed back to the office.  Trade Unions cautioned that many workers like remote working and have arranged their lives differently during the pandemic because they no longer had to travel into the office. Representatives from Forsa stressed “the benefits of remote working must not be lost”.

Updates on the Right to Request Bill

What is the Right to Request Remote Work Bill?

This is a proposed legislation that will create a law that allows employees in Ireland to ask his or her employer to work remotely. The government has recognised the wider societal benefits of working from home such as less congestion on the roads and shorter commuting times, and more time spent in the community with friends and families.

Who is proposing the Bill?

This bill in particular is a priority for Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who has said employers should continue to facilitate remote working “so long as the business gets done and services are provided”. It comes as part of a strategy that also includes investing in remote-working hubs across the country and giving workers the right to disconnect.

How is it supposed to work?

It will give the employee the right to request remote working. Employers will be required to provide reasonable grounds for refusing to facilitate an employees’ request. There are currently 13 grounds for refusal such as ‘nature of the work does not allow for the work to be done remotely’. 

Currently this bill is being assessed by the government. Leo Varadkar said himself “There’s still a way to go before it becomes law, and I have said throughout that I am open to hearing realistic ways we can strengthen it.”.

Research highlights importance of social chat for hybrid and remote teams”

The latest research investigating the impact of hybrid working and the way colleagues communicate remotely suggests that social chat is vital for workplace wellness. Research from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the centre for Research Training in Digitally Enhanced Reality (D-Real) has been examining how workplace communication has changed since the start of  the pandemic.

 The research acknowledged the importance of social talk or ‘watercooler conversation’ as being key to workers’ wellbeing.  The study found that video conferencing influenced the dynamics and topics of workplace social conversations, as well as the role these conversations play in maintaining pre-existing relationships and forming new ones.  However, ​​communication over video conferencing channels can be more formal than in-person interactions. 

 In general, the research highlighted the need for “social chat” among remote organisations and that in general informal ‘watercooler chats’ can actually provide motivation to workers.

 Irish Graduates and the hybrid work model

In Ireland we pride ourselves on our talented workforce, in particular our young graduates. However, a new report has revealed concerns around graduate experiences of working in Ireland today. 

Particularly surrounding the issue of remote work. As we know, digital transformation brings it’s own challenges. During the pandemic we have discovered how virtual and hybrid working can negatively impact work relationships, work/life balance and create feelings of social isolation, particularly for young graduates. 

Take working from home, as an example, it is a very different experience for a well-established mid-career executive with space for a home office than for a typical twentysomething in rented, cramped, shared accommodation.

Despite these challenges, graduates still favour the hybrid world of work. The model is here to stay with 86% of graduates stating they want flexible working as a norm. 

So, how can organisations attract young graduates. The incorporation of co-working hubs can be the perfect solution for younger people. They are able to work more flexible hours, closer to home while also avoiding the social isolation that comes with working remotely from home. 

Irish-based banks rule out return to five-day office week

A recent survey by KPMG stated that none of the 11 banks surveyed, (90% of the Central Bank of Ireland Ireland-regulated credit institutions), expect their staff to go back to a full working week in the office. It is believed that staff will be likely to work 3 days remotely and visit office spaces only twice a week. The KPMG survey found that banking chiefs expected more than 50 per cent of staff below department head level to work at least three days a week remotely.

Bank of Ireland, the largest employer in the banking sector ,with a capacity of 9,200 staff,  had only 35% capacity in it’s office and hubs on the first day of eased Government restrictions. Although it is planned to increase capacity over a number of weeks, it is unlikely to be at 100% capacity again.

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